Official Suggests Organized Crime To Blame For Theft Of ‘Irreplaceable’ Celtic Gold

Official Suggests Organized Crime To Blame For Theft Of ‘Irreplaceable’ Celtic Gold

A German official said “organized crime” was likely responsible for stealing a valuable cache of Celtic gold coins this week from a museum.

At least 483 coins dating back to about 100 B.C. were stolen from the Celtic and Roman Museum in Manching, Germany, early Tuesday morning. The coins, discovered during an archaeological excavation in the area in 1999, are worth millions of dollars. 

“It’s clear that you don’t simply march into a museum and take this treasure with you,” said Markus Blume, Bavaria’s minister of science and arts, during a Wednesday interview with BR, a public broadcaster. “It’s highly secured and as such there’s a suspicion that we’re rather dealing with a case of organized crime.”

The museum’s surveillance and the town’s phone systems were down during the heist, according to Blume. Three other items were also nabbed during the theft. 

“The loss of the Celtic treasure is a disaster,” Blume said. “As a testament to our history, the gold coins are irreplaceable.”

The city’s mayor, Herbert Nerb, told German outlet Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the city’s communication networks had been “cut off.”

“The museum is actually a high-security location. But all the connections to the police were severed,” he said. 

He blamed “professionals” for the theft and said the heist was a “catastrophe.”

When the coins were discovered more than twenty years ago near Manching, the finding became the largest stash of Celtic gold found in the 20th century, according to The Associated Press. The small town, with a population of about 11,000, is 37 miles north of Munich. 

The Celts were an Indo-European people who settled throughout Europe, including parts of what is now Germany, especially the southern portions. The earliest archaeological evidence of the Celts can be found in an Austrian settlement dated back to around 700 B.C. 

Museum officials are concerned that the thieves might melt down the coins, making them impossible to track down and recover. Blume said the thieves had demonstrated “incredible criminal energy.”

Police have blamed other German museum thefts on organized crime in recent years, including the 2019 robbery of 21 valuable pieces of jewelry from the Green Vault museum in Dresden. Authorities linked members of the Remmo-Clan, a Berlin-based crime family. Several members have been arrested, but the trial is ongoing, and none of the pieces of jewelry, worth roughly $128 million, have been found.